These garden activities for kids provide hours of outdoor learning and fun. Start with basic seed sowing, grow a beginner vegetable garden, or spend time outdoors making garden-inspired arts and crafts. We’ve also included imaginative play ideas.

For more also see Creative Garden Projects for Kids.

Creative Gardening With Kids

The goal is simple: encourage kids to fall in love with life outdoors through time spent in the garden. Start with learning to sow seeds and tend to plants. Use those skills to grow a family food garden. And allow lots of time for free play and imagination. It’s all good if we raise a new generation to love and respect nature and delight in it.

You know your child and their interests and I encourage you to browse the suggestions and choose activities that fit.

I was one of those free-range kids who still loves the garden today because nothing was forced on me: my parents just let me play and explore and grow things that I was curious about. I’ve always appreciated this and hope I have done the same for my kids. Some children will love the science of growing plants and making compost, others will love photographing insects, or painting plant tags, or making up whimsical stories while playing in a makeshift garden fort. And it’s all good. If you missed out on this stuff as a kid, it’s your time too.

Let’s dig in.

Sow Seeds

1 Beginner Seed Sowing

Beginner | Indoors or Outdoors

This is a good starting point for everyone: learn how to sow seeds and nurture them into plants.

Start seeds like peas or beans indoors by a window. When they get big, transfer them to a large pot and continue growing them indoors or outdoors (if temperatures are favorable).

It depends on the plant, but in general, when spring temperatures are steady at 60°F (15°C) or higher, you can also start sowing seeds outdoors. Some plants like it warmer, other tolerate cooler soil.

2 Grow Fairy Carrots in a Jar

Beginner | Indoors or Outdoors

This is a fun beginner project: grow tiny carrots in a mason jar or small flower pot. It’s best in a pot with drainage holes but use what you have. With a clear container you can see the roots as the plants grow and harvest sweet little carrots.

3 Make Seed Tapes

Fine Motor Skills | Indoor DIY

Some seeds are so tiny they are nearly impossible to sow. Seed tapes to the rescue! This project will appeal to kids who enjoy fine motor skills and organization.

Tiny seeds are attached to tissue paper with a simple flour glue. The whole thing is planted at sowing time—the tissue will gradually dissolve.

4 Grow Salad Greens in a Container

Beginner | Indoors or Outdoors

Leafy greens are one of the easiest crops to grow. They are edible throughout the growth cycle and many mature within 6 weeks. Plus, some regrow several times after cutting the leaves with scissors. This project can be done indoors or outdoors.

5 Regrow Food Scraps Into Plants

Beginner | Indoors

Have you seen those articles online claiming you can grow your own produce from existing food scraps? They are misleading. But, if the right parts of the plant are intact, you can make some veggies continue growing or grow their seeds into plants. Two good starter projects including sowing the pit of an avocado or a ginger root.

6 Start a Veggie or Flower Garden (or Both)

Intermediate | Outdoors in Containers or In Ground

Once you’ve got the hang of seed sowing and basic plant care, it’s time to plan a veggie garden. Most crops can grow in containers (pots, window boxes, or raised beds) or in the ground. Work with what you have and sow where the sun shines.

Some kids really love having their own designated garden space where they can grow what interests them.

Do you want to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, or fruits? Or some of everything?

7 Grow a Theme Garden

Intermediate | Outdoors

There are countless possible garden themes: pick a plant, color, superhero, or other topic that interests your child and select plants and garden art based on the theme.

Plants for Butterflies and Other Pollinators Plants for Hummingbirds Grow a Moon Garden: Choose white flowers that reflect moon light or grow moon flowers that only open at night. Grow a Pizza Garden: veggies and herbs for toppings & sauce.

Color-Themed Garden: choose plants all with certain color leaves or flowers. Or combine a few favorites.Superhero Garden: spiderman, batman, superwoman—what do they make you think of? Some seed sellers and plant nurseries bundle seeds or plants
by theme.

8 Grow Giant Sunflowers

Beginner | Outdoors – In Ground

This one takes time but will be fun. To grow really tall sunflowers, you have to start with the right seeds. I’ve listed suggestions for sunflowers that get either huge flower heads and/or grow really tall (16-feet!).

Supplies

Giant sunflower seeds – Follow sowing instructions on packet Outdoor garden. See How to Grow Giant Sunflowers for seed recommendations and growing tips.

9 Grow a Plant Teepee

Intermediate | Outdoor DIY Project – In Ground

You’ve probably seen these lovely living tents. You start with a basic structure made from bamboo poles or other supports and grow climbing vines around the base. Seed options include sweet pea vines, nasturtium vines, cucumbers, squash, scarlet runner beans or tall sunflowers (no supports needed).

Supplies

Seeds – tall sunflowers, climbing vegetables or other vines8-foot bamboo or other support postsTwine

Check your seed packets for sowing instructions.

Grow Your Imagination

10 Make Mud Pies and Dandelion Crowns

Everyone | Outdoors

I had to include this. Outdoor play is a wonderful for kids and there’s nothing like making mud pies, playing with sand, hide and seek, with lots of laughter and running around. If you have the space, get everyone off screens and be free to play.

If you’ve got lots of flowers or flowering weeds, it’s time to make a flower crown. Dandelions and daisies work nicely.

11 Make a Fort

Everyone | Outdoors

Sometimes a simple idea creates the most memorable experience. Have you got old bed sheets or sleeping bags or curtains and some clothes pegs? It’s fort making time. Once the fort is ready, it’s time to play, read, write, draw, and watch birds from the cozy nook.

Supplies

Bed sheets, curtains, sleeping bagsClothes pegsPatio furniture (for structure)

12 Make a Miniature Garden

Beginner and Intermediate | Indoors or Outdoors

This is a project you should be able to do without spending any money. Use toys you already have to create a little play world in the garden. If you want to keep it ongoing, make it in a container of some kind so it can be moved when rain is expected.

Supplies

Small toys or fairy garden miniaturesSuitcase, old baking sheet, or other containerGrass lawn, soil, sand, or plants (optional). Ideas

13 Write and Read Garden Stories and Poetry

Everyone | Outdoors

Find a comfortable place to sit, grab a notebook and see where the muse leads you. Thoughts, stories, poems, …. Anything goes. Just enjoy a quiet time outdoors.

14 Put on a Play or Puppet Show

Everyone | Outdoors

If your child is a natural story teller or performer, it’s show time. Set up a simple performance area, hold some rehearsals, and bring your patio chairs at show time.

Stuck on the script? Use a favorite movie or story plot as the starting point.

Prop Ideas

Puppets, toys, books, dress up clothes

15 Make a Movie or Stop Motion Animation

Advanced | Camera and Computer

Got a budding filmmaker or future YouTube star? With the garden as the stage, any camera can be used to shoot movies or create stop motion animations. Film outside and edit indoors on a rainy day.

Most computers have access to an edit program like Movie maker or iMovie.

Garden Arts & Crafts

16 Make Stepping Stones

Intermediate | Outdoor DIY

Stepping stones could be for hopscotch or a garden path. Decorate ready-made paving stones or get a DIY kit and include handprints or footprints—or make impressions of sticks and leaves.

Get a Stepping Stone Kit here | Amazon

17 Hand Paint Stones

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

Wash and dry stones and use craft paints to create hand-painted ladybugs, bees, spiders, strawberries and more. Or make a set of stone plant markers for your garden vegetables.

Instructions: Stone Painting for Beginners

18 Create Plant Markers

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

Make decorative plant markers for the plants in your garden. It’s also a nice gift idea for a favorite gardener.

Supplies

Paint stir sticks, wooden spoons (check the dollar store), scrap strips of wood, popsicle sticks, old canning lid jars, stones.Paint and markers suitable for surface.

19 Make Garden Treasure Jar Luminaries

Beginner with Adult Help | Garden Arts & Crafts

The glue for this one will require adult supervision. Use flat-bottom marbles (glass gems) and old food jars to create garden luminaries. Add a solar votive light to make them glow at night. When my kids were little they liked to hide secret notes inside.

20 Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

It’s possible to paint both clay and some plastic pots with the right preparation and paint. If you have a bunch of pots in different size, you can also create clay pot people and pets with them.

21 Create Leaf and Flower Prints

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

There are lots of ways to do this. One easy way is to lightly brush acrylic craft paint onto leaves and then press the painted size down on paper.

Flower pounding is another method. You take colorful flower petals, sandwich them between pieces of paper or plain cloth, and gently hammer them until the pigments transfer to the paper below. There are plenty of tutorials online.

Creative Record Keeping

22 Photograph the Garden

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

I loved lending my kids a camera when they were little. They had so many funny and creative ways of taking pictures.

Sometimes the whole set of images was silly selfies. Other times it was blurry close-ups of insects, buds and blooms, the underside of plants, or the secret life of ants. Give them the freedom to document the garden how they see it. Home schoolers could pick a curriculum topic and document it.

23 Paint or Sketch the Garden

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

Set up a table and chair with the art supplies and your child is set. You might want to join in too and create your own garden painting.

24 Paper or canvas Craft paints, watercolors, paint brushes Colored pencils, markers

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

A garden journal can be anything your child wants it to be, depending on their personality and interests.

Some will enjoy documenting seed sowing, listing seed names, dates, sowing conditions, daily changes and wildlife sightings.

Others will want to be more artful with sketches or pictures and poems. Let them lead the way. It’s very satisfying to get through a whole gardening season with a full journal in hand. The practical notes also serve as good reminders for next year.

25 Learn Your Plant Hardiness Zone

Intermediate | Garden Fundamentals

Plants and seeds are sold with zones listed on the tags so we’ll know if they are suitable for our growing regions.

Science-minded kids can research their own gardening zone number and look up suitable plant options. This is also a good opportunity to learn about annuals and perennials.

26. Find Your Frost Dates & Hardiness Zone

Plant Hardiness Zones
These are listed on seed packets and plant tags to guide your choices. Average Frost Dates | Use this calculator at Almanac.com. Enter your city and state or province to find your first and last frost dates and number of frost-free days.

Intermediate | Drawing & Measuring

Got a map maker in the family? Having a map of your garden is helpful both for plant care and future planning. Depending on the child’s interests and abilities, this could be a simple sketch or a map made to scale.

Young geographers may enjoy plotting it out and listing all the existing plants by name. Mystery plants can be identified through photos (reverse lookup on Google), a plant identification app, or have an adult ask in a plant ID group online.

27 Make a Hypertufa Planter

Intermediate | Garden Arts & Crafts

This is fun for older kids who like a hands-on mud-pie-inspired project with adult assistance.

Portland cement and other ingredients are combined to form unique planters. It can be messy but it’s really fun.

Tutorial: How to Make Hypertufa Garden Creations

Intermediate | Outdoors

Some kids will love this, especially if they get the eco-friendly aspect of it, others may not.

Depending on your situation, a compost pile could be a designated area in the garden, a hole in the ground, or a container with a lid. Food scraps and yard waste are combined together encouraging microbes to do their magic, breaking everything down into beautiful garden soil. It’s an ongoing science lesson, requires physical work, and provides free nutrients for your garden.

Learn More: Composting 101 for Beginners

Insects, Birds, and Butterflies

28 Make a Pollinator Palace

Beginner | Wildlife DIY

Also called bug houses, these are collections of natural materials providing insect habitat.

For the one pictured here, I used a house-shaped wood shelf and added items found in my garden including twigs, trimmed branches, and pinecones. If insects nest in it, you’ll want to replace the contents each year.

29 Make a Water Feeder or Puddler

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

Is fresh water available for living things in your garden?

Water feeders are simple to make. Place it on or near the ground or hang it from a tree branch and provide clean, fresh water daily. Birds, bees, dragonflies, butterflies and more will all make use of it.

Instructions: How to Make a Butterfly Water Feeder

Beginner | Wildlife DIY

If you have toads or frogs in your garden, give them shady hiding spot.

A flower pot on its side, half buried in the soil makes a nice hidey hut.

30 Make a Recycled Bird Feeder

Intermediate | Garden Arts & Crafts

Old plastic soda pop bottles can be made into hanging bird feeders.

Instructions: DIY Water Bottle Bird Feeder

Using Natural Treasures

31 Make Pressed Flowers

Intermediate | Garden Arts & Crafts

Any leaves, twigs, or flowers can be saved and dried as pressed flowers. Keep them in collections or use them for crafts.

This can be done quickly in a microwave oven or the old-fashioned way by pressing them between absorbent sheets of paper inserted into heavy books. You can also buy flower presses.

Instructions: How to Make Pressed Flowers and Leaves

32 Start an Outdoor Natural Treasure Collection

Beginner | Garden Arts & Crafts

Similar to a bug house, I have shelves in my garden where I collect natural treasures. It’s stuff I like that I find while working in the garden.

Whether it’s a beautiful piece of lichen that has fallen off a tree trunk or an old bird’s nest, there are so many beautiful finds.

Collect old wasp nests, dried seed pods, pinecones, and more.

Always wear gloves while handling these materials and wash your hands afterwards.

Nature is beautiful. Gardening is a wonderful at any age. Let’s enjoy it.

~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛